It’s easy enough to find the definition of affiliate marketing, but what is even more helpful is to see real-life affiliate marketing examples!
When it comes to definitions, I feel like even Oxford Dictionary slightly misses the mark with its definition:
A marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.
The facts are all there, but they are so dry it may be hard to understand, especially for people new to online business in general and affiliate marketing specifically. So before we get into the real world affiliate marketing examples, let’s break down that definition…
A marketing arrangement (an agreement between your business and another business that has an affiliate marketing program)
by which an online retailer (that other business or network that offers an affiliate marketing program)
pays commission (sometimes a percentage commission, like 20% of the total sale, and sometimes a flat fee, like $8 per lead or sale generated)
to an external website (your online business – a blog, website, or landing page)
for traffic (in some cases you can be paid a flat fee simply for clicks on your affiliate link to that other business’s site. They don’t always need to purchase something in order for you to make money)
or sales generated from its (your) referrals.
Hopefully that helped clear things up. But I like to learn by seeing things in action, not just reading. So let’s check out some blogs that make money with affiliate marketing…
Affiliate Marketing Example #1: Smart Passive Income
I started reading the Smart Passive Income blog (and listening faithfully to the podcast) back in 2014. I was already familiar with affiliate marketing, and had made some money with it. But I was so inspired by Pat Flynn’s income reports, I knew I had to learn more from him.
Pat has since stopped sharing the monthly reports, but you can still see how much he made with affiliate marketing every month from October 2008-December 2017.
I randomly chose the August 2016 income report to show you how Pat makes money with affiliate marketing:
That month his affiliate earnings alone were $147,427.22 and in the report he breaks down each affiliate program he earned money from, and how much. Some of the bigger commissions came from companies like ConvertKit, BlueHost and Leadpages.
So how did Pat actually make that much in affiliate commissions?
Among other techniques, Pat shares his affiliate links in his resources page, his “start here” page, and throughout his blog. But if you looked at the report and saw that Pat made over $10,000 in commissions from ConvertKit alone, you may wonder exactly how he did that.
He explains it in some of his income reports, but essentially Pat made video demos and tutorials for ConvertKit products. The demo video can be found on YouTube, and in them Pat discloses he is an affiliate, an adviser, and a happy customer of ConvertKit.
That said, creating a demo video is an example of affiliate marketing that works.
Affiliate Marketing Example #2: Niche Sites
Niche sites are a great way to earn affiliate commissions on one type of product. For example, Spencer Haws from NichePursuits.com created a niche site about survival knives several years ago. (Though even he admits the niche could have been slightly larger, like survival gear in general, rather than just knives.)
You could create a niche site like this on almost anything! But if you’re just starting out and want to create a niche blog that makes money from affiliate marketing, you’ll want to make sure you do market research beforehand. I’d start by making a list of potential niche site ideas (probably based around things you’re already interested in) and then start to see if there is a market for it, and how tough the competition is in that market.
Here are some examples of niche sites making money with affiliate marketing:
- Herepup.com (all about dogs)
- MakingSenseofCents.com (a personal finance blog)
- KnitHacker.com (all about, you guessed it, knitting!)
- JoyfulArtJournaling.com (about art journaling)
- CarSeatAnswers.com (all about car seats)
- DogFoodAdvisor.com (about dog food, of all things!)
- Friendshipbreadkitchen.com (all about Amish Friendship Bread!)
- SucculentsandSunshine.com (exclusively about succulents)
As you can see from this short list, a niche site can be about just about anything!
More Examples of Affiliate Marketing
While the Smart Passive Income monthly income reports are inspiring, and the niche site examples are helpful, maybe you want to know how bloggers might actually incorporate affiliate links in their blog posts, social media, or emails. So let’s talk about that!
*Please note, according to the FTC any and all affiliate links should be disclosed. So make sure you’re disclosing affiliate links in any post — whether it’s on your blog, social media, email, etc. You also want to make sure it’s okay with your affiliate partner that you can use their links places besides your blog.
In Blog Posts:
- A fashion blogger could link to the clothes and accessories in the photos on their blog.
- A personal finance blogger could include links to a credit card offer in their blog post about lowering interest rates on personal credit cards.
- A lifestyle blogger might create a handmade gift guide and include products sold on Etsy.
- A food blogger could use affiliate links for the ingredients, tools, and/or cookbooks they use in a blog post about baking cakes.
- A travel blogger could use affiliate links for flights and hotels to/in a city they’re visiting and blogging about.
- A DIY blogger could use affiliate links for the supplies they use in a project tutorial post.
- A business blogger could write a review of a software program they use.
- A beauty blogger could use affiliate links for products they use in their nighttime routine blog post.
In Social Media:
- A relationship blogger could tweet about the best dating apps (using an affiliate link) on Twitter.
- A knitting blogger could post a picture of a finished product on Instagram, and have an affiliate link in their bio to the pattern.
- On Pinterest you can create an image and link it directly to the product(s) in the image and use a direct affiliate link. (Etsy and other affiliate programs do not allow direct affiliate links on Pinterest, so be sure to read each program’s rules before doing this.)
- A mom blog could share their “toy of the day” on Facebook using affiliate links.
Email is a little tricky… some programs highly encourage you to use email (even offering pre-written scripts you can just copy and paste, and email to your list). But others (including the mac daddy of affiliate companies, Amazon itself) forbid you from using their links in email.
I can see the case for both choices. Email generally converts higher than any social media or even blog posts. But some people are shady and do not build their email lists organically, so essentially they are spamming people. And Amazon (and others) don’t want any part of that!
But if you are allowed to share affiliate links in your emails to your opted-in subscribers, do it! You’ll be amazed at the conversions.
One Bonus Idea:
If you happen to have a Podcast, you can use your own affiliate links as a show “sponsor.” (I put that in quotes because you shouldn’t actually say they are a sponsor unless they are.) As with all the places above, just make sure you’re disclosing the fact that the link you’re sharing is an affiliate link. You could simply say something like:
“Today’s episode is brought to you by my favorite blog host, SiteGround. You can go to thrivingaffiliates.com/siteground — my affiliate link — to get new domains, blog hosting, and more! Your patronage helps support this podcast, so thank you!”
So there are some affiliate marketing examples for you! I hope these ideas and real-life cases were helpful in furthering your understanding of affiliate marketing.